Sorry NFL preseason, but the first real game in Jerry World is BYU against Oklahoma. The big story line the past week was trying to find out what really happened to Oklahoma's TE Jermaine Gresham who suffered cartilage damage in his right knee and is out for about a month.
Gresham is Oklahoma's leading receiver from their high octane offense that averaged 51 points per game which lead the nation. While Gresham is the teams leading receiver this injury will have little impact on BYU winning. In other injuries, BYU has had about 30 players with some type of injury. The biggest injury is the lone returning offensive lineman --Matt Reynolds-- who broke his hand and will be wearing a cast in Saturday's game. Also, Houston Reynolds a backup offensive lineman who was to get significant time tore his ACL and is out. The final big injury is RB Harvey Unga who pulled his hamstring, but will play and start in this matchup.
Oklahoma is bringing Heisman Trophy winner Matt Stafford to Arlington and he will put up big numbers even with the loss of Gresham and three of four receivers gone from 2008. The main concern that BYU fans have been pinning their hope on a win is the Oklahoma offensive line that is replacing four starters from 2008. Last years line was a stone wall and was rarely pressured on his way to 51 touchdowns. Even with four new starters on the offensive line which may have some problems gelling early on, but these replacements are all four or five star recruits and should be able to out muscle BYU's defensive line.
BYU's hope is that their more experienced defensive line with Jan Jorgenson leading the way can cause some trouble by applying pressure to Sam Bradford. The inexperience of OU's offensive line means there will be some mistakes that BYU must take advantage of to try to make some defensive plays. If Bradford gets comfortable back in the pocket then this game could be another 60 point outburst, because the BYU secondary was one of the worst in the MWC and not even Utah's offense last year is anything close to Oklahoma.
When BYU has the ball they should be able to put up some points against Oklahoma with the passing game of Max Hall, and the receiving group of TE Dennis Pitta, WR McKay Jacobson, and WR O'Neill Chambers can cause some damage. The inexperienced offensive line is going up against at worst the third best defensive line in the country, and Max Hall could be in trouble.
This defense is faster then TCU and Utah from last year and BYU had trouble with those teams by losing both games and Max Hall had only one score and eight picks. What BYU needs to do is to use RB Harvey Unga to control the time of possession, and to set up the pass.
One huge concern for BYU is the coaching staff that is very stubborn and believes that if they execute their plays they will succeed, and we all saw how that worked in their three loses: TCU, Utah, and Arizona. Even if BYU makes these adjustments, by no means does that mean a victory is in reach.
If--and this is a big if-- is to win they will need to put pressure on Sam Bradford, cause turnovers, and control the time of possession. Also, Max Hall will have to a turnover free game, and hope that WR McKay Jacobson does not have missionary legs' from his two year layoff by being able to stretch the field.
Now, BYU will be able to put some points on the Sooners but it will not be enough to win this game. The line on the game has Oklahoma anywhere from a 20-22 point favorite, but look for BYU to be able to keep the game close for at least a half while keeping the final margin within 17 points.